Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Brovic - Blogging since 1903

KHUK KHAK, Thailand - I was laying on my back, there on the floor, gently rocking, and thinking about how one's life can revolve around schedules, habits, and routines, and how yoga on a full stomach isn't a good idea, especially the inverted postures, especially spicy fish.

What to eat and when to eat pretty much determines a yoga routine, or conversely, the yoga, routinely, determines when to eat and what to eat. And then there are other things, like time, or alcohol, or work, that are precluded by the routine. I'm left thinking, 'will it interfere with the yoga?'

Hey, I'm not a yoga freak, like some people I know. On and off for 40 yrs, mostly off, with entire muscle groups neglected or atrophied, and energy centers blocked, calcified, or non-existent. I practice now because I have to if I want to walk or ride a motorbike, or sit in an airplane seat. How about you? Can you knock out some jumping jacks for me? Gimme a couple minute's worth.

'It's the hamstrings,' I kept thinking. 'It's all about the hamstrings.'*

Well, there's a lot of 'I's' up there, I know, but how can you tell a personal story if you don't use 'I'? How you going to get to know someone if they don't self-disclose? That's what I told the shrink when she asked why I was asking so many...have I already told you this?

Over at the VA...in South Dakota. Anyway, how is a person going to relate? I knew she'd never been in combat...spent all her time going through med school**...so...oh, never mind. Talk about ideas.

Like schedules.

Yeah. Schedules. There was school, with the bell going off, Mrs. Rose ringing a hand bell on the playground at recess, practice schedules, haircuts, everybody's got work-related schedules, always late for church, can't be late for a date, a squad of rubber mold presses dropping every fifteen minutes, track practice laps, mid-terms, conditioning schedules, press deadline, medication schedules, time to mow the lawn, pick up the kids, doctor's appointment, parent/teacher conference, tax deadline, time to harvest, time to plant, and ohhhhh, this could go on for...

"SCHEDULE???" Exclaimed Bo as he and Misty and I were headed down Slim Buttes Road into Chadron, and I had foolishly said we were running behind schedule, something you don't really say on the rez. Late for an appointment, sure, but not schedule.

"We ain't GOT no fuckin' schedules," one of 'em said, and I can't remember who. I'm thinking it was Misty, but it could've been Bo. All I remember was slowing down and thinking I'd used a poor choice of words. All three of us squashed together in heavy winter coats on the bench seat of that old, cold-ass Chevy truck, running late, in my mind, for something.***

That's the way it is on the rez, where most people, something like 95%, are unemployed. Astounding, isn't it? But the flipside is, there's low stress. If you discount a number of early death-related factors. So rez life should be pretty loose, which it is. Why am I talking about the rez, and not Phang Nga province or coolies in rice paddies? I don't know.

I had yellow rice and chicken for breakfast, with sticky rice and coconut...then swam in the Sea. Facebook stuff.

Point is, we're conditioned since, who knows, the womb?..since the womb, to be on schedule. Give or take some delivery time and time between then and potty training and the recess bell and when the boss is picking you up for lunch, your anniversary, your meds, and when's the funeral.

And all along, our bodies are recording the whole shebang, the muscles and tissue layers responding to the injuries, the scars, the deaths, the trauma, laser scorching anger, defenses, the boys don't cry, the drill sergeant, handcuffs, trapeze fall, heavy lifting, humiliation and shock of surprise, and fears, all constricting and leading us to a certain particular way of walking on Earth.

- end

* Everybody knows it's more than just the hamstrings.

**I'm going to ask her, what's her motive. Can't be the pay. Service to her country?...the war effort? She can easily answer that one, don't you think? I asked about missing the trees in Indiana, the oaks, the sycamores, the maples, hickorys and hardwoods you don't get in South Dakota, and she seemed uneasy with the question. "I miss them," I told her, just wanting to see if she could relate.

***Maybe I already told you this one. I did, didn't I? But not in the same context.


Monday, December 27, 2010

God 2010

Brovic - Blogging since 1903

God 2010

KHUK KHAK , Thailand - A friend recently wrote in an end-of-the-year email, 'God 2010 has been tough.' Without punctuation, you can easily see where this ambiguity could lead. 'God, Twenty-ten.' It sounds kind of like, 'God 2.0', a new improved version.

For those of you still using God 1.0...you must first uninstall your old version of God, and then download...

'Your download should begin automatically. Simply click and drag the God icon into your applications folder. If God 2010 has been less than user-friendly, you may find God 2011 to be more kind to you. More kind, more loving, faster.'

If you are having difficulty, click on 'Help'.


In other good 2010 news I forgot to tell you, a couple of weeks back, after years of foot-dragging, the US finally became a signatory party to the UN's Resolution for Indigenous People's Rights, a great day for native people around the world.

I observed in a minor journalistic role, along with Milo Yellow Hair, Tom Cook, Loretta, Uncle Joe American Horse, Uncle Joseph (Larue) Afraid-Of-Bear, and several other members of the Oglala and Great Sioux Nation who met with representatives of the U.S. Departments of State, Justice, and Interior, when they gathered at Ft. Robinson several years ago during tribal consultations on formulations of drafts to the resolution.

It was confusing, to say the least, with Indians bringing a mountain of issues, complaints, and wrath to the meetings, for which the government officials were unprepared to address.

Much of those proceedings, which boiled down to Indians asserting their right to sovereignty, have been forgotten or lost in bureaucratic lack of inertia, with the head of the government delegation promising, 'We'll get back to you on that,' which they never did.

The funniest part of the whole business was following that comment, one of the Indians stood up and said, 'We give you three days.'*

That was in 2005.

- end

*this was particularly funny because back during the treaty-making days of the 19th century, government officials would issue this sort of ultimatum to the Indians, to be concluded with, 'or else we will consider you hostile,' with the unspoken '...and hunt you down and kill you.'.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Coal In Your Stocking

Brovic - Blogging since 1903
Coal In Your Stocking

KHUK KHAK, Thailand - There are some things you shouldn't do alone, they say;

the holidays

A poll asked if you'd been good this year. The results were positive overall, but nonetheless disturbing, as 65% of the respondents declared they had been good, flossing, fighting the forces of evil and saving the planet from the other 35% who reported being bad.

Problem is, I know as well as you that a fairly substantial portion of the people who said they'd been good, are outright liars, such as myself. I haven't been that good, really, enough to say that generally, 'I've been good'. Not as good as I used to be.

No. Quite the opposite, in fact. People such as me would skew the results and render the poll invalid, tainted, or at the very least, unsubstantiable. And how much bad would be required to offset the good, tipping the scales into the 'bad' category? Can you say you've been good ALL the time?

yeah, yeah, yeah. bullshit. I don't believe you. If it was true, your actions, your neighbors, loving God and all that, then why, pray tell, would we be in such shape as we are, world-wise?

Ahhhhh. 'Shit happens', you say? Well, shit happens because of prior shit happening, no? And, leave God out of it, even if He has His hand in all things, despite whether or not you think God is a man and has hands.


Thankfully, the bike repair shop guys were still working on Christmas Eve, because Christmas doesn't mean anything to the Thai. The guy could've changed that tire in his sleep, he'd done it so many times, changing out the tube and ready to go again before I could stub out the cigarette I'd lit while he worked. About three bucks. In and out in five minutes.

The front tire went flat while I was going about 3/4 bat out of hell, not quite full bat. I felt the wobble and immediately slowed down, hoping the thing wouldn't throw me, like that other guy the other day; an ugly slap of metal on metal, the truck's screeching tires, the bike spinning across the road, the rider flailing, rolling, tumbling across the asphalt.

Not good. Another chalk outline on the blacktop. Sometimes there's not much you can do, if you were thinking of aid. Sometimes the best you can do is hold their hand while they die. Tell them everything is going to be okay.

That's another thing you don't want to do alone.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Low Water Mark

Low Water Mark
Brovic - Blogging since 1903

VIENTIANE, Laos - Looking down on the street from a fourth-floor balcony must be something like being in the spirit world; you can hear and see people, but they can't hear or see you, nor do they, in going about their business, appear to have any idea you're there at all.

'Square up' to the bucket, coaches said. Square up to the keyboard. You could get a crick in your back.

Do people suffer alone, or do we pretty much share the same ailments? Spared some, and given others, huh? Blessings wrapped in a karate chop. That silver lining people speak of.

I've got to get to work on China. I read the stats on this blog for the first time since...since 1903, I guess, and saw that most of my readers are in Germany and the States, with a few readers in Thailand, Mexico, Sweden, and Japan, but only eleven people in China. Holy Smokes, isn't that a HUGE population over there? Seems like that's a market I should try to crack.

No need to go on about the bad knees business, but this being a 'walking city', where motorbikes are too fast for gawking, and the 1950s vintage sit-up-straight French bicycles are too corny to be seen riding, I needed to wait until the endorphins kicked in, or go find the strongest possible pain-killer possible before venturing out onto the street.

Where do you find the strongest possible pain-killer in Vientiane? Motorcycle taxi driver, where else? Hooked up a mere twenty minutes after going through immigration. 'You want girl? You want lay-dee?' he asked in a whisper?

'Nah. Just the...'

Problem is, after taking them, they were so good, I was afraid to leave my room.

Paranoia. Paranoia, an unrealistic fear. Paranoia can have you:

Run to the window.
Swallow the roach.
Talking about the illuminati.
Flush your stash down the toilet.
Turn the music down.
Slow to under the speed limit.
Keep looking in the rear-view mirror.
Thinking the reptilians are out to get us.
Spray the air.
Light incense.
Brush your teeth.
Use mouthwash.
Keep looking around.
Close your Facebook account.
Remain in the car.
Remain in your house.
Remain on the couch.
Slap on some after shave.
Wonder if that's a cop.
Peek out the curtains.
Swear to God you'll never do it again.

What do they say? 'Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.'

Nothing stays the same, except when it doesn't. Down along the river, where the 'Mighty Mekong' was lined with quaint little restaurants on stilts and the embankments thick with gardens and vegetation, has now all changed.

For a year they've been continuously trucking in loads of earth from somewhere downriver, grading it, packing it with steamrollers, and have built a new sea wall, capped with concrete, and constructed a huge, expansive sculpted block inlay promenade that now has the place looking like...Geneva.

It's quite nice, with potted plants, artistic landscaping, a children's playground, and each evening throngs of people exercising, bicycling, or coming out for the sunset, but not the same. You wouldn't recognize the place.

Gone is the huge pavilion where the Lao girl in spandex would lead an aerobics class of a hundred each night, and where I laid down on the cool concrete and passed out after running a four-block wind sprint after taking a strong pain-reliever two years ago.

Gone is that Vietnamese riverfront restaurant that rented the bikes, and all those other places you could sit and watch the sun drop into the Mekong while having a tall beer Lao, a spicy lab salad, or Mekong river fish.

So now, to relieve the two-way traffic congestion, they've created another road running parallel to the promenade, the river, and the old street. That's a new road between the river and the old road. Everything is different.

Dick Martin, the late Richard Martin, my wonderful journalistic mentor and cutthroat editor, would say, 'Don't tell me about it - show me!'

Like they say, 'a picture is worth a thousand words.' And so that's what I'm trying to do with all this new digital technology that I have an innate resistance to, to which I have an innate resistance, Dick, Martha, Kathy Short, the librarian...and so there's some photos up on this blog.

And another thing...for the first time since...1903, I guess...I checked the stats...already told you...checked the comments, too, for the first time. Geeeee, you guys! Thanks so much, and thanks for the encouragement. Here I was thinking nobody was reading because few of you email or let on...and then there's this guy in China...

What? I need to catch you on Facebook? I'm too paranoid.

Another thing...you can go all over the place (virtual world) can't you? I mean, I'm just finding out. Never mind.

I noticed while going through a number of airports recently, the aforementioned body scan, and everybody playing with their electronic gadgetry. It's a remarkably easy fake out, to pretend you're on a phone, loudly taking a call, or fiddling with your thumbs on an imaginary device, not interacting with your immediate environment, 'being' somewhere else.

The dedicated SLR slung around your neck is a museum piece. Electronic technology has made everyone 'at the scene.' Everyone is a photographer. Everyone is a writer. No more waiting for the paper to hit your doorstep. Those days are long gone. Paperboy Same same milkman. News is instantaneous. Kind of takes the unique sort of journalistic fun out of it for me. Unless you've got it running through your veins.

Another thing...you can check out around other folk's blogs...sure...I'd just never done it, and lo and behold! There are some really nice blogs out there! Design-wise, some beautiful work, give me some ideas...like putting up photos...and content-wise, as well. Some good ideas floating around, and not all nonsense, like some people. Or some of that angry stuff people post on U-Tube. Unfuckingbelieveable what some people say.

Where does that leave us? Numb? I mean, can we be shocked by anything, anymore? Two wars? Two wars? Katrina, tsunami, job gone, house gone, retirement gone, 911, Sarah Palin, heyyyyyyyyy. Anything fucking thing can happen, can't it?

Every once in awhile, something really cool happens...the internet, guys emerge from a cave, black man's elected president, San Aung Su Kyi set free, Dick Cheney goes away, Voyager keeps plugging to the edge of nothing, guys find anti-matter, and what other remarkable shit has happened that you're glad to witness?

Meanwhile, to keep you occupied...'This week, Lindsey Lohan...'

Did you ever wonder where the term, 'Who gives a flying' fuck?' came from? I'd like to tell you I coined it, but I didn't.

And another thing...(can't nobody say that like a black woman), this time, from the Funny Front; that toothpaste to which I'm preferential, 'Darlie', nice eco-friendly green and white box, dapper fellow in a top hat and big smile, I recently found out, was modeled after Al Jolson in blackface, and originally named, 'Darkie'.

WTF! Yeah, 'Darkie'. It's sold widely throughout Asia, and is produced under another company under Colgate Palmolive, who changed the name because of, well, you know, it's just not politically...what do you say?..politically...it's not proper, racially, to have some big lipped nigga in a top hat grinnin' a big-ass white smile, so they toned it down, turned the brother into a white man, shrank the lips, shrank the smile, and changed the name.

Except for the Chinese. The Chinese still sell the product in China as 'Darkie.' Wanna know why? Because they don't give a frying fuck about black people or other sensitivities the rest of the world observes, in some cases, to be fair, in their own interests of course, just like us, but their tune is slowly changing because of precious minerals and other commodities. In Africa.

In any case, I'm not buying the shit any more. Darlie, Darkie, got me looking at all the toothpaste manufactures labels. Colgate? What else do they make?

Everything. They make everything.

Man, I came up here with no proper writing instruments. No laptop, no paper, no pen. Had to wait until I was in line in immigration to fill out the arrival card because I didn't want to appear the fool to the Chinese guy sitting across the aisle in the plane by asking to borrow his gold pen.

On my way out (of Don Muang domestic terminal in Bangkok), I got side-tracked over to a couple of immigration officers taking care of the overstay people. As the lady did the paperwork for two days overstay at 500 TB per day, I began a prepared routine...

"I stay for the King birthday."

"One thousand baht," she said pleasantly.

"The King gib me one day," I said. "FREE!"

She looked up. "The King give me one day," I repeated seriously. "I sa-tay for the King's birthday."

His 83rd. It was huge. The whole city was lit up, jam-packed with people in the streets. Everybody lub the King.

She considered, and it looked like she was changing the receipt. She said something to the man on her left at an adjacent desk, and another uniformed man slouched in a chair behind them. They laughed good-naturedly, shaking their heads no.

"FOR THE KING?" I asked incredulously. "You charge me for the King's BIRTHDAY?"

They blushed. The lady wouldn't look me in the eye. Ashamed, she said, 'Sorry. One thousand baht.'

1 USD = 28 Thai Baht. Last year, 33. Five years ago, 42. Ten yrs. ago, 48. When we print more money to fix our predicament, it becomes devalued IN the world; don't need an economist to tell us that.


I was feeling kind of bad for not connecting with my immediate environment, and it wasn't a cell phone, but rather, an insensitive disregard for the less fortunate who crossed my path, maybe I already told you.

So I was sitting at dinner, just off the sidewalk, watching the guy with no hands approach tourists up and down the street. And there was that lady in the hand-cranked tricycle cart, the one I'd ignored the previous day while I sat eating breakfast.

'I'm not going to jump up, but if they approach me, I'll give,' I thought.

Neither of them approached me, but after dinner I was doing that old-man-after-dinner stroll down the row of vendors, not looking to buy anything, and there he was, right behind me, the handless man. He didn't see me. He was hitting up some other people, who refused. When he turned toward me, I already had the note out, which he accepted between his two stubs and thanked me in Lao.

I walked off, but turned to see him turn and give the note to a little boy, who scampered off the sidewalk to his mother in the hand-cranked bike/cart, giving her the note with a grin and big eyes.

'Oh. They're all together.' We didn't sit at the same table, but in a sense, we all ate together.


My New Digital Camera

So, these new photos posted herein are a result of importing the recordings off the chip and exporting them to the blog, which I did, after erasing my previous work and the 265 shots of a visit to Hong Kong by a group of young friends, one of whom, the redhead,* dropped her brand new 10.0 Sony Cybershot onto the beach, which was found by the Swede, who gave it to me, since she already had one.

She was staying at the Mariott, according to her digital recording of the room, the view, the dining room, the beach. The Swede said she tried to find the owner, but no one would claim the camera, so I thought about it in a karmic sense and the connection between my good fortune and the misfortune of someone else; the camera coming to me, my sense of worth following the motorbike accidents; Vietnam as a medic...

and then there was the connection between the doctor/therapist and the patient/client, the teacher and the student. Which is which, and who is who?


*see photo

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Brovic - Blogging since 1903


KHUK KHAK, Thailand - A lot of days, you'll find me sitting on my ass, reading a book, or going over daily ops.

Happy day next door, as in, Myanmar, with Aung San Suu Kyi's freedom. A great day for humanity, not unlike the universal joy expressed at the release of Nelson Mandela. We'll see what happens next, Liu Xiaobo.

Interestingly, all those Nobel Prize winners were former or current political prisoners. Xiaobo in jail, and Obama, of course, who is still being held under House arrest.

You see where the boys at CERN, the guys with the 10 billion-dollar atom smasher, had a breakthrough creating an anti-matter atom? Why, hell, I can do that right here in my kitchen, at my place.

Hey. I'm looking at my money and the calendar, seeing how many days it is until next pay day, and thinking, 'Geeeeeeeee, that's going to be a stretch.'
That ever happen to you? More than once?

I've never forgotten the expression of Ben Corley, a basketball teammate with whom I was trying to hoop our ways to an undergraduate degree, and was riding to work at our 2nd shift shit summer jobs in the press room at General Tire & Rubber Co. in Wabash, Indiana, and one Sunday night, after being paid on Friday, Ben opened up his wallet and stared at it for the longest time before slowly saying in wonder, 'Where...did all my muhfuckinmoneygo?'

You ever ask yourself that question, maybe not in those words?

'Let's see...we went to the gas station...the garage sale...Mickey D's...and the bar.'

One of the Myanmar gardeners, the unreliable one, came by here today, holding out five baht, the equivalent of 20 cents, in his palm, no eat, he indicated, making a gesture of a spoon to his mouth and shaking his head, looking pitiful, pathetic, begging me for work.

I looked around. Some sweeping up leaves, I guess. I told him okay, sure.

Not today, he said. Tomorrow.


That incredibly self-absorbed person I was telling you about, the non-Thai, stopped by here to continue her story. While listening, I remembered to show her the shot of me in space, hanging onto the ISS, here on the blog.

"Here. I wanted to show you this," I said, turning the laptop toward her. "Iko Nakamura, Japanese guy, took the shot," I mumbled nonchalantly.

She took out her reading glasses and peered at the photo for a moment. "I just bought these today," she said. Putting the glasses back in their case, and the case to her purse, she continued with her story.



at what?

yeah, sure, the story went on to say the obvious, but that was my initial reaction to the headline.


Wouldn't You Say?

"How do you turn off the insects?"

"What do you mean, 'How do you turn off the insects?'? Everybody knows you can't turn off the insects. Please elaborate. You're being too vague."

"What about underwater?"

"What about underwater? Put the insects underwater?"

"No. Your head. What if you still hear the insects underwater?"

"Well, if you still hear them underwater, then they're probably...they're probably in your head. Wouldn't you say?"


Post-game Collegiate Football Radio Interview Pt.2

"I mean, you know, like, any team can, you know, way the ball bounce, I mean, like, hats off, you know, they, sometimes your way, you know, and sometimes, like, you know, go back out there, you know, I mean, any given day."

"Thanks, Coach."


Freedom & Feardom*

You flown lately? Prepare yourself for genuine sexual molestation. If it was you or me, doing this to someone we didn't know, we'd surely be facing criminal charges.

'Invasive' is the word being used. Highly invasive. I experienced the new enhanced groping procedures at a connection in Guangchou, China, where the young plastic-gloved girl ran her hand up my thighs to my crotch, causing me to exclaim in surprise, 'OHHHHHHHHHHH?' with a head-clearing shake of my head to full and maximum full-trottle alertness. Code red.

My spontaneous outcry caused everyone in the vicinity to pause and look. At that point, I wanted to ask her to remove her gloves and proceed, and maybe could we have dinner together.

It usually takes flowers, dinner, and sitting through a ballet performance to get a girl to go that far on the first encounter.

'Arousal' isn't the word. 'Publicly Violated' is more fitting. Like one humiliated passenger said, 'It would be considered sexual harassment if it was anybody but the government.'

How many terrorists are Americans? Why subject every single citizen to this treatment when one's citizens aren't the threat?
'For everyone's safety', we recognize and understand, but wait until you experience its humiliating public personal intrusion.

The Fourth Amendment reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Replace the 'i' with an 'e' in Rapiscan, the company that produces the X-ray body scan used at airports, and you have a more accurate description of its function. RAPE SCAN.


You seen where the prospect of having their retirement stretched out two additional years had the French in the streets? What're they at now, a three-day work week already? The corporate world has learned efficiency to the point of making your job unnecessary, an overall belt-tightening reaction around the world. A fully-staffed foreign news bureau is obsolete, replaced by the internet and 12-year old Naji with his cell phone, you and your apps.


Slipped the buddha around my neck for the first time, after being asked why I hadn't been wearing it, headed out the door, and hopped on the bike. At the entrance to the highway, I turned left toward the Cape Pakarang 7/11 instead of turning right to the Khuk Khak 'Seven', three kilometers closer, don't ask me why.

Just as I was leaving 7/11, a northbound motorcyclist had his transit interrupted by a truck entering the highway intersection from Cape Pakarang road. He slammed the truck with a resounding crash and went skidding diagonally across the road. I was the second guy immediately on the scene, the first man directing the heavy traffic.

The cyclist, a Thai guy, had a broken ankle, for sure, and a nasty open gash to the bone. Slight abrasions on the knees and hands. While an angel of a little Thai girl appeared and held his leg, I packed his wound with gauze and wrapped his ankle with an elastic roller bandage, then we held his leg elevated until the ambulance arrived. We could have used a splint to immobilize his leg, but under the circumstances, we just waited for the certified crew.

When they got there, I told the first guy who rushed up that the guy had a broken ankle, held the leg as he put on plastic gloves, then stepped back as he unwrapped the wound, looked at it, and immediately reapplied fresh bandages from his kit, and wrap it again with a new roller bandage. He just re-did what I did, re-opening the wound. I stood watching in silent bewilderment thinking, 'Load him up, man! He's good to go! GO!'

It was hot. I was soaked with perspiration, and disgusted. A crowd had gathered. Traffic backed up both ways. I gathered my small kit bag and slipped through the crowd to my bike, a cop now directing traffic snaking by the scene, another spray-painting an outline on the asphalt around the bike, the Thai emergency crew huddled over the injured man. A lady who had been standing there watching, looked up at me and smiled.


Shrinking Man

Last time I went in for a physical they measured my height at 6 feet. 'Can't be right,' I said. 'I'm six-foot, two.' We double-checked. Six feet.

Gee, the high school football roster, the college basketball lineup, the circus highwire poster, boot camp, all had me at six-foot, two. I used to b...

In the mirror, that guy's skin seems to be getting looser. Take time to stretch. Saltwater float in the Sea. Nowhere to go, but just be. The water was choppy, but good therapy.

Thinking of who we used to be reminded me of Lupe' on Pine Ridge, one day saying emphatically, 'I used to be...I was one of the...I was the BEST.'

Never mind about what he was the best at. Whatever he was doing at the time, he was the best. Same with you and me. Did I tell you I embarked upon the International Space Station, and ended up making shields? The best shields, and some of the worst.


Batfink got poisoned. That's what they said, she got poisoned. Batfink ('because her big ears make her look like a bat', said Damon, who named her) was a typical Thai dog that came around here looking for food, and to escape the Myanmar camp just up the road at that time. Medium-sized rat-like bitch, short hair, black as the ace of spades. Wouldn't let you lay a hand on her. Understood only Burmese. Ignored you if you spoke Thai or English.

Then she had pups, and that changed her whole attitude, and she became One Fine Dog, learned English, guarded the complex and did her job, along with Sugar ('Chu-gah'), her mother, who earlier, also got poisoned, they said.

Batfink, who you couldn't see in the dark, could scare the hell out of you, coming up on you silently from out of nowhere to nuzzle your hand, especially with those long pointed ears, long pointed nose, and yellow eyes that gave her the appearance of Satan's Helper, or something goosebump scary.

Now, Batfink's gone, and so is her daughter, Caramel, who come up missing three weeks ago after being on the scene here for two years. We all just shrug our shoulders, look off, eyes searching the road. Poisoned, I guess, since they're all road-wise. Nobody gets hit.

So now, there's just 'Gruffy', or, 'P. Thai', to the Thai, a black, wiry-haired guy with a white beard and great disposition. He's lying out my back door, having just eaten a whole fried chicken from the market, head, feet, and all. The whole ting.


'Let's go down to the bah,' said Damon in his heavy British accent. 'The band's playin' an' Claudia's singin'.' Couldn't say no to my bad boy motorcycle four-doors-down neighbor. He'd just fed me dinner. 'I'll go down for a coke,' I told myself.

'You can keep up with me,' he said, hopping on the yellow motorbike he's been riding since he sold his big bike for the cash.

'Ain't no way,' I told him.

'Yeahh you can,' he said laughing, zooming off.

He waited for me at the intersection to the highway, then we crossed over to the left side and headed south through Khuk Khak and Bang Niang to his bar halfway to Khao Lak, 14 kilometers away, Damon winding out the gears and leading the way like a bat out of hell, 'full bat'** at night, riding the center stripe and flying by people and passing cars, which only crazy or impatient people on motorcycles will attempt.

I backed off the throttle north of Bang Niang when I swung out to pass the three vehicles Damon had just gone around, and a guy coming the other way flashed his lights and swung out to pass a slower northbound vehicle. Both he and Damon stayed on their respective sides of the line, but the distance between their mirrors was close enough to hear a voice say, 'Old man, you're not in that big of hurry.'

And he's right, that guy inside my head who sometimes overrides the insects.

'Lead, follow, or get out of the way,' they say in the Marine Corps. The same is true on motorbikes.


*you can see this material is dated. However, note this was before the Thanksgiving uproar.

**everybody knows you never go full bat.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Here Now

Here Now

KHUK KHAK, Thailand – Hey, anybody can make a mistake. That’s what Saddam said. He came back from the dead to testify in defense of Tariq Aziz, his buddy till the end. Turns out, the current ruling clique don’t see him (Aziz) as innocent as the international community does, being the sort of folk who take revenge seriously, leveling upon him a death sentence.

Maybe you don’t care about that, or anybody else. Maybe we’re just merely attempting to advance and preserve our own interests, however twisted, convoluted, or direct our approach may be. What is your prime motivator? Perhaps Aziz, like everybody else, was simply trying to not be hungry. Remember the war?

Which one?

Sat at Don Muang airport in Bangkok, the 3 p.m. departure to Phuket delayed until 20:50, said the status monitor behind the three frustrated girls behind the counter, trying to address the three-deep throng impatiently demanding what was going on. They (‘One-Two-Go’ Airline’) didn’t have a plane for us at the moment, they said.

One-Two-Go. They’ve changed the name to ‘A…uh…something ‘Thai’…and right now, I can’t for the life of me, remember the name of the carrier*, but they’re still the same people who had a crew attempt the short-field runway and run off into the sea, and worse, tried landing in a super bad rainstorm and crashed, with some of the survivors staggering away from the craft on fire, one’s worst nightmare when flying, except maybe having some kind of failure over the ocean.

I try not to think of that shit, but you can’t help it, especially when you know already you’re with some kind of fly-by-night operation who offer really really cheap seats. I’d change the name, too, wouldn’t you, after a couple of spectacular disasters, both of which were human judgment errors? But anybody can make a mistake.

I always ask for an exit row, that way I can be the first guy off the plane. You’re supposed to perform some kind of heroic your-fate-is-in-my-hands scenario by reading the card in advance and acknowledge your understanding of your duties to the flight attendant, and if need be, remove the door, stash it in the row in front or behind, up to you, then exit, and assist other passengers in de-planing.

There’s more legroom on the exit row. Everybody knows that.

Partly to escape that Thai airport cop’s incessant whistle, and trying to burn five more hours at the airport, after already showing up two hours early as they demand, I re-traced my route back through security and across the street to the designated smoking area and sat for a half hour or so with a couple of Thai guys and the Ethiopian women’s 400-meter relay team, pretty much absorbed in awe of the people you see in a city of 12 million people, and what kind of condition my place would be after six months absence.** Only ran across four beggars in three days. Two crippled guys and a couple of old ladies. Out of 12 million people, that’s not many asking you for spare change.

Not much else to say about that, except the dollar has depreciated noticeably against all foreign currencies. Over here, everybody is working.

I say ‘over here’, because some of you thought I was here already, but I wasn’t. I was still home, home on the rez, but now I’m not there, I’m here now. Same as you. We’re always ‘here’, aren’t we? Unless we’re somewhere else.

Did I tell you about ‘It’s Me’, my radio program?

The lady was apparently trying to impress me, when during the course of conversation, I’d mentioned skiing, and she raised her eyebrows, looked away and said she’d skied ‘Mt. St. Something Or Other’, in France. To ‘over’ on her, I said I’d been aboard the International Space Station.

“In France?” she asked.

“In space,” I replied. “You can check it out on my blog.”

Registering absolutely no surprise or other impression, she continued with her story. I expected some sort of reaction, like, “WHAT?”, or “Really?”, or “Oh? As a scientist or teacher or billionaire space tourist?” or “You liar,” but she just continued with her story.


*now, I remember; ‘Orient-Thai’

** apart from the typical scum, mold and gecko shit, the only other remarkable thing was finding the skin of a snake across the shoulders of a hanging shirt. Unsettling to say the least. Yeah, no shit. I was wondering the same thing.

Good thing was, the garden is glorious, the six-year palms over the roof. A particularly extended wet season, they say, here, while Indonesia is getting hammered, first by an earthquake, then a tsunami, and now, a volcano. You want to go?

In response to a break-in three years ago, during which the thieves removed all the copper wiring and fixed themselves some of my noodle soup, I made the place here impenetrable. I’ve got the keys, and I couldn’t even get in. Had to do some climbing and squeezing and falling from about six feet, busting my ass in the process. Then the interior door disintegrated in my hands from a termite infestation.

Turned out, the one key I didn’t try was the one that opened the burglar-proof iron gate, I found out after I had already busted my ass in the fall. What’s a guy supposed to think of himself after some shit like that? Manas told me I was too old to be climbing around.

Well, it feels good to be back, just like it does when I’m there, and not here. It feels good to be anywhere.


Pine Ridge, SD

Slim Buttes – Meant to tell you about the radio show. It’s hosted by me, out of my place here, doing all manner of innovative against-the-brain irreverence atypical of contemporary broadcasting formats, working in a few comedy sketches, poetry readings, music from Africa and the Caucasus, self-promotion, wise-cracking, and functioning essentially as a pirate station, broadcasting at 50,000 watts.

Fifty? Yeahhhh. They say on a clear night, they can pick me up in Nashville.

Did I say ‘against the brain?’ My bad. Freudian slip. I meant to say, ‘against the GRAIN.’ Although I never use my name, given name or stage name, you’d know it’s me. That’s how I identify myself on the air, like someone at the door, or over the phone; “It’s me.”

Oh. Almost forgot. KNRBbbbbandit, somewhere around 610 or fifteen on the am dial, give or take a couple frequencies. Sometimes you may find me up around 1650…nearly off the band at both ends.

Friday nights, nine eleven to 1 a.m., give or take a half hour, depending on how quickly I may need to shut down and close up shop. With that kind of transmitting power, I can override most stations, so you should be easily able to pick up the show. If they ever triangulate my position, I’m dead meat.

You wonder where all the oil went? Me, too, there for a while. Then we got shifted over to miners in Chile and election stuff, and forgot alllllll about that oil. What did they say? Vaporated? WHAT? Yes. Magical, magical. Poof. It’s gone.

‘Annnd now…we’ve got 31 guys trapped a mile undergroun, my friends…’

That sort of trapped-in-a-mine shit happens like clockwork in China, alllll the time, and nobody cares, except the families. In fact, it did. They had a cave-in at the same time, the guys over there, speaking Chinese of course, asking the world, fixated at the moment on Chile, ‘Hey, you guys. What about us?’

Well, they’re all out now. The Chileans. I don’t know about the Chinese guys. You hear anything?


The ‘Fly The Rez’ kite contest was a fabulous success, held here on the grounds, and I can’t describe how much fun it was. We had ‘altitude’, ‘duration’, and ‘last man standing’ categories, and I won all the events.

I arranged a small harness for my opponent, the white cat,* Oscar, Chester, Casper, whatever he said his name was, that appeared here a few weeks back, but the apparatus proved to be unmanageable, with the cat invariably getting all tangled up in the string or freaking out every time the kite would lift it off the ground and carry it a few yards away, so most of the events went to me by default since there were no other contestants.

One of the highlights of the contest was duct-taping the mice into a tri-plane (as you may imagine, the cat was going absolutely nuts during this procedure) and sending them up, suspended from the kites, setting new altitude records for the 335th (Slim Buttes 335th Aviation Squadron)**, but after a couple of the pilots extricated themselves from the cockpit and fell to their deaths (no parachutes. we’re 100% legitimate, rudder to prop), we discontinued the exercise.

I didn’t witness the deaths. They were too far away and up too high. When we brought the kites in and looked into the planes, they, the mice, were gone. You can see the excited smiles fading into disappointment on the faces of me and the cat.


Ohhhhhhhh yeah, the Goldilocks Planet. Sure. How many light years? Like we’ve got someplace else to go now? Stop. Say no more.

You see the sequel? Why do they make them? You ever see a sequel that was better than the first?

Uh. ‘Fly – The Sequel’***


Why don’t people like Buddhists? Working from partial notes here; aren’t all notes partial? That’s like all those referees turning on their mics and saying, ‘After further review…’ They reviewed it, then they reviewed the review. Wasn’t the first review the review? After further review of my notes...

With all the Islamophobia floating around, someone conducted a study, you saw, on toleration in America, or lack thereof. Turns out, Americans like atheists, agnostics, Mormons and snake handlers before they like Buddhists.

Geeeee. What’s that say about us? What do they, the Buddhists, stand for? Awakening? Compassion? They wearing dynamite vests? Goes against our aggressive American grain, that compassion talk, not to mention Biblical scholarship. It’s against the spirit of gun laws, except in places nearly like San Franciso and Boulder, Colorado, of which there are none, where citizenship is defined by ownership of two bandana-wearing dogs and at least one strand of Tibetan prayer flags.

I don’t get it. We’d prefer a godless neighbor, or that person who just isn’t sure, over that guy who just sits there, doing nothing.

Smile on his face.

What’s he up to?

It’s so damned dark in here by candlelight, I can’t see my notes. Partial notes.

Here’s a bumper sticker T-shirt idea:

‘Shit Happens - as a result of prior shit happening’

There are a number of things you don’t have when you don’t have electricity, I noticed.

You don’t have:

electrical shock
electrical short circuit
electrical problems
electrical bill
electrical light
ice cubes.

What happens when you’ve used up all your words and ideas to the point where what you’re saying sounds like the shit you’ve already said? Did old man Macbeth run into that? Man on the radio proudly said he’d (not Macbeth. The guy) written 117 books. Now, that’s cranking, isn’t it?


As I was headed south across the Nebraska panhandle toward Cheyenne, I come up over a hill and holy smokes, there’s not one, but two State cops pulled over, lights flashing.

Just off the road, with the help of one of the cops, two guys were struggling to offload a huge bull elk, massive rack, obviously dead, from a pickup truck, over the barbed wire fence, and into another pickup on this side of the fence. I wondered if the animal had been poached, since the cops were there, lights flashing.

Putting my pipe out of ‘plain sight’, I braked and pulled over and stepped from my truck. Hitching up my belt as I approached the four men, I affected the puffed up manner of someone in authority.

“What’s going on here?” I demanded.

The young cop standing in the back of the pickup with blood and elk hair on his hands began, “We’re trying to ge…” before being stopped with a hand check by the clean, older, serious cop on my side of the fence.

“Who are you?” he asked, suspiciously eyeing first me and then my truck.

“I’m Colonel Brovvik, commander of the Slim Buttes 335th Tactical Squadron,” I said with a gruff, authoritative indignation, fully prepared to explain myself further, if necessary.

“Colonel WHO?” He didn’t buy it. Not for a minute. I was wearing sandals.

“I advise you to return to your vehicle, Sir,” he said, ‘overing’ on me in a serious tone that suggested little patience for interference with official in-the-line-of-duty Nebraska State cop business. I would either have to bluff, fold, or play it half way. There was no way I could prove my command of the 335th.

“Is there a crime here?” I asked. “Who shot the elk?”

“I got him,” said one of the men proudly, which told me the whole story. No crime, with the clean cop advising me again to return to my vehicle.

“Thought you guys might need some help,” I said, walking away. At least three of them must have thought so, too, judging by the size of the elk; six, maybe eight hundred pounds, and could have had the assistance were it not for Officer Clean. All the way to the Wyoming border, I expected him to roar up in my rearview mirror, chasing a fishy story.


No Problems Anymore – Just ‘Issues’

Have you noticed, or is it just another overused word? Nobody has ‘problems’ anymore, just issues. On the radio, I hear guys talking about car repair issues, lower back issues, issues in the defensive secondary, immigration issues, NASCAR pit stop crew issues, health issues, firearms and concealed weapons issues, eye ear nose and throat issues, deer hunting issues, jogging issues, and Johnny Cash’s daughter’s growing up issues. It sure is comforting to know people aren’t having problems anymore.

Other really overused words:

‘ExACTly’ - Used in response as an affirmation. Replaces ‘You’re right’, ‘You can say that again’, ‘uh huh’, ‘For real’, ‘preCISEly’, ‘Fucking aye’, and ‘Yes’.

‘Actually’ - Heard it used more than a dozen times in each of three separate ten minute interviews; a political commentator, a UFO researcher, and a seventh grade girl scout. Please stop.

‘I held my nose/I closed my eyes/I took a drink’****

- end

*showed up here hungrier than hell, looking like someone had tossed him out onto the gravel road at 50 mph. A white male, one blue eye, one yellow with a cataract . Who needs a cat with cataracts? “I don’t have no cat food,” I told it. “I don’t even like cats.” Looked up in the cupboards. “All’s I got’s this tuna,” I told it, opening the tin. When the smell hit him, he looked like he’d been hit with electric shock, eyes stricken with surprise, like in a Tom and Jerry cartoon.


**Fly – The Sequel
In this case, the sequel is expected to outperform the original. Did you see it? I don't know how much to give away here, and could allow you to await its release in theaters, but the gist of it is me as fly ninja assassin, the best in the world, with scenes of me giving lectures and swatter demonstrations - to a class of cadets, a round table of Chinese businessmen, Larry King, Oprah, a parenting class of 6 mo.-olds (a mother proudly exclaiming, "He's so gifted!" of her fly-swatting child), promoting the book on the Today Show, and so on, technical stuff like backhand, ceiling slap, long-range detection, recognition and interdiction...looking for a way to tie it all together, and another way to end it, and another way to make it appealing to a large audience who wouldn't instantly think the producers were insane. Who would've thought Planet of the Apes would have taken off the way it did?*****

***renamed ‘Slim Buttes 335th Tactical Squadron’

****‘Love Potion #9’. If you know the rest of the words, you have my deepest sympathy.

*****"You've given this a lot of thought, haven't you?" said Louie in surprise when I ran the idea by him. I reminded him that I'd witnessed him talking to them, he had two swatters, right there on the table, and the reasons why we hate them; they eat shit, ok? They're cannibalistic and necrophiliacs, Jeffrey Dommers of the insect world. They make maggots. They like to land on your food without washing their hands, especially after eating shit, and they like to wake you up by going up your nose, to list a few. Bo knows. Those guys live in a trailer. He knows what it's like to wake up swinging out of a dead slumber. Bolt upright out of a deep delta rhythm sleep, cursing and swinging at the air, maybe slapping himself in the face. Even my dad, a truly peaceful man, hated flies. He's the one who got me started. You get hit and land dead in the gutter, who's the first to show up? Cop? Ambulance? Bystander? No.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bobcat in a Hole

Bobcat in a Hole
Pine Ridge, SD

Slim Buttes – Whew! There for a minute I thought I’d lost my sense of humor.* Comes and goes, y’ know, returning in disguise in what these days seems to be a heightened cynicism.

Like, after waiting five years for the tribe to process my paperwork and install a water hydrant, thereby hooking up to the local pipeline, Mini Wiconi (‘Water of Life’) and relieving my need to haul water. The guys came out and planted two little blue flags indicating the existing water line and where the hydrant will be, and left.

But, besides me, who cares? No water or electric for five years, or indoor plumbing…an outhouse, candles, batteries, wood heat, internet access at the coffee shop a half hour away in Pine Ridge ‘Ville’ (Village), no fridge, keep it simple, gas and groceries.

Sweat lodge twice a week, kids hanging themselves in an across-the-rez epidemic, uranium-contaminated groundwater, death by auto accident, death by diabetes, death by freak accident with people hungry for the details, raccoon killing all 48 or however many of the ducks, massive grasshopper infestation, eating everything, pine needles, trees, anything green, everything.

“Last resort is to catch a bunch of ‘em and put ‘em in a blender and blend them up. Then strain off the juice and spray that on your trees (two-year old cottonwoods). Apparently, they don’t like the taste of their relatives,” said the lady at the greenhouse.

That method seemed extreme, and I considered it after the tobacco juice (Copenhagen. Brady swore by it, and said his granddad swore by it, too) failed. Picking them off individually, which I’ve done up until now, is terribly labor intensive and time-consuming, requiring constant monitoring and vigilance to the extreme.

Catch and release, what I do, except for the very unfortunate few I threw against the trailer’s metal siding, telling them, “KEEEEP…I SAID…STAY THE FUCK OFF MY TREES,” but that was only in frustration, and of course if you were there, I wouldn’t have used such language, but since it was just me and the grasshoppers, wtf, and that was after already trying the ‘talking to nature’ method for a couple weeks, seeing if the word would spread through their community and if it would take effect.

I reminded them, a few in particular, holding them right up to my face, that I hadn’t been killing them, and wouldn’t kill them, and they could have evvvverything else out here, but would they please stay off my trees and pass the word along.

They say you need ducks. Ducks can’t get enough grasshoppers, they say. But then, you’ve got to provide security for the ducks, as Tom has learned after Mr. Raccoon decimated his duck population this summer, outsmarting Brady and his traps, climbing the six-foot perimeter fence, and over the hot wire, which unfortunately isn’t hot, electrified; it was an idea. "A duck a night," Tom said. Still needed a few elements to be operational, Tom said.


On the entry and exit paperwork, they ask you what your profession is, and I usually put ‘writer’, or sometimes ‘writer/comic’, but I seriously doubt if anyone
in their right mind EVER reads that pile of cardboard that accompanies each and every flight into and out of the country, except you can’t just toss it, you’ve got to have it to leave, and if you don’t, then it’s a big hassle and fine at the departure gates, but anyway, if a person is going to claim to be a writer, then they should probably try to write, right? or not write, and either lie, or simply say ‘comic’. And that would be a lie, too, but perhaps at that moment, not.

However, I have some new material, some new sketches, sports related; ‘The Dad at the Little League Game.’ A silent production; he leaps to his feet, comes stomping down out of the bleachers, gets into it with the umpire through the chain link fence, waving heatedly, animated, pointing his finger, gets thrown out, barking over his shoulder on his way to the parking lot, blood hot in his cheeks, madder’n hell. Fun, huh? You’ve seen it?

‘The Third Base Coach’, going apeshit, mistakenly waving the runner around second, attempting to stretch a double into a triple, then frantically trying to wave him back to second, big eyes as the throw comes in from the outfield, telling him to slide…DOWN! DOWN!

The guys sitting around the table down at the base farm were sort of indifferent. Light chuckles, slight smirks. They liked the ‘Hometown Hero’ slo-mo touchdown run off a fake slant-in, deep route, catch, straight-arm the safety, tiptoe along the sidelines, high-stepping showboat strut the last five yards, wrapping it up with a little bit of a circus show in the end zone and high-fiving the fans on the way back to the bench. You’ve seen it a dozen times, slo-mo maybe, but not on stage.

Can I post some of this stuff for you on utube?

Then, there’s ‘The After-Game Interview’, and you can imagine how that goes; ‘and I mean, like, you know, the ball bounce my way, and like, preparation, and I mean, like, take advantage of our opportunities, and I’d like to give a you know like shout out you know to all our you know troops overseas…HEY…and I mean, like, you know, thankgodandallthefans an like, I mean…the coaches…the tutors, like, you know, like, I mean, it was a you know, team effort, you know.’

What was it? I haven’t been keeping notes for the last four months, just mental notes.

‘Physical, Dental, and Mental,’ I say when they ask me at the VA** if I have an appointment. One appointment turned into six follow-ups and an urge to choke the lab girl, and I meant to ask the new, well, she’s not so new now, but relatively new lady shrink from Purdue if they can discontinue treatment if you get nasty or say something really fucking rude to any of the medical or administrative staff.

Louie says they can. And he should know, but it seems like they’d take into consideration if a guy was on meds or not, you know, like, I wanted to ask her, the relatively new lady shrink, if she ever felt threatened in the context of a session, and if she had something like a gun or taser in her desk in the event of such a…uh, eventuality…scenario.***

As for the lab girl, after asking if I could proceed directly to my appointment without the blood work, and her replying snottily, “It’s up to you,” I simply got out of the chair and walked into the hallway, punching the down button on the elevator and saying loud enough for the other four awaiting veterans to hear, “Not today, lady,” with the elevator punctuating my words with a loud DING announcing its arrival.

Don’t need to go into it here, because it’s petty, and they say don’t go on and on about your medical shit, because people don’t care, but suffice it to say that considering her attitude, I didn’t want her sticking me with a needle just then and vamping my blood for her tests. It was a spontaneous act. You ever have a day when you didn’t want anybody blowing you any shit, not in the mood for it?

Usually the VA treatment is excellent, along with genuinely friendly attitudes, including the luncheon canteen, which generally effects a comfortable feeling of justification for having risked my life and taking a hit, and then maybe she was just having a one-star day.

Speaking of stars, I still haven’t gotten mine yet. What’s that…a Brigadier General? I’m still a colonel, full bird, eyeing that first star. But generals don’t fly, and I still want to fly. Slim Buttes 335th Aviation Squadron, 86 active duty personnel, pilots, some quite young.

Eight new planes went out the door, squadron strength is currently at eleven, number 102, sixth edition (all tri-planes), rolled off the production line two weeks ago, and a bunch of people got promoted to captain, full-blown pilots. You want to make major? Then you’ve got to do more than just clock in, clock out. Everybody knows that.


*Everybody knows a sense of humor is something to be maintained, like a car, a relationship, or a checking account, or, gee, a lot of things require maintenance when you think about it, but lately, like the last year or so, yeah, give or take a few months, the thought crossed my mind just like it did Bo’s, when I astral projected over there and overheard him saying, needing a ride to work, ‘I ain’t got no fuckin’ friends’, and just to test the accuracy of the perception, I repeated the phrase as Bo would, when he and Misty were over here the other morning, and watched their lips turn into a curl.

Bo was needing a ride to work, and a friend to get him there, and after a month and six flat tires, my truck had grown tired of Slim Buttes road.

That gave me something to do, yanking me out of my surly mood, needing meds or pep pills, or maybe just a big dose of Jesus, waiting for water to arrive on the property, and thinking people really don’t care much about one another; you come in alone and you leave alone, unless you’re in a multiple-car accident or go along with a bunch of other people in an aircraft, but you know what I mean, you die alone, mostly, and in the meantime, from birth to death, people pretty much just tolerate one another’s shit. You’re lucky if you’re not wearing diapers again at the end.

“Just like a baby again,” laughed a friend. “Sleep a lot, wearing diapers, need someone to push you around.”

Well, that’s depressing enough, isn’t it? Well, take a look around. Want to talk about the environment or politics, the bobcat, or somebody’s notion of what somebody else should do? In the end, aren’t we simply acting in selfish interest with little regard to anybody else in the universe?

Like in ceremony, in that sweat lodge, in your church, the synagogue or mosque, everybody came in with something on their minds. After the ‘wipe off’, collection plate, begging forgiveness, bargaining, request for gift, we all return to our own worlds. It’s sometimes amazing, even within our own cultures, our communities and families, we can communicate in the same space, the same language, the same notions of what is real.

**You see a lot of guys over there wearing hats declaring which war they served in; very few WWII, some Korea, Vietnam Vet, Native Veteran, Iraqi War, Afghanistan, and so on. Walking wounded, what it says. It occurred to me in the rear view mirror, that the only place those hats mean anything other than there at the VA, is an Indian Reservation or airport security.

You don’t wear it, you’re just another old guy limping along. You wear it, you tell everyone you were one of those fools or patriots who served for whatever reason. To the other vets coming in for treatment, it usually gets you a nod.

***“No taser,” she said with a laugh, “but I’ve got a panic button, right here,” she said, reaching under the desk. Said she had to use it once.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Me in Space


Here I am pictured high above you. As you can see, I'm hanging on for dear life. Ha. Actually, I'm tethered off. It would require a major screw up for me to go floating off, never to be seen again, like that guy in 2001 Space Odyssey. That's the newly installed viewing cupola I'm hanging onto, with all you guys there in the background.
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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Is That You, Dr. Jeckyll?

Brovic - Blogging Since 1903

KHUK KHAK, Thailand - They asked at airport security why I had purchased a one-way ticket. I told them I expected this to be my last earthy incarnation.

That remark earned a 'Please step over here, Sir.'

"I see here you failed statistics twice as an undergraduate," snickered Never Mind My Name, glancing up from his computer screen.

Suppressing a startle at the surprising depth of data at his fingertips, I rallied, "Yes, but if it matters on this flight, I aced Anatomy & Physiology."

"What do you think you are, some kind of comic?" he asked with a sideways calculation, affecting with a slackjaw squint the power to screw with me immensely.

"Yessir," I said. "Says so on my all my paperwork."

"That's bullshit," he shot back. "You're a has been. You're a could've been, a chickenshit in the ring."

What kind of ring? I wondered. Drug? Car theft? Rollerblade? Frodo's gift? I toyed with asking, but I knew what he was referring to by the snicker coming out of the side of his mouth.

They knew I was with the circus? That was hitting below the belt, causing me to catch my breath. I eventually came to terms with that label (chickenshit) after a brief appearance with the Palaminos, subbing in for Tito (recently paralyzed) on the high wire, and later, in court after the fire.

Trying not to register shock, I asked softly, "Can I use that?"

"Use what?" he asked.

"Could've been. Who I could've been. Manny used to say that."

"Who's Manny?" he asked.

Had him by the nutsack, playing along, my game, ball in my court, home court advantage, ad in, my serve, free throw, penalty kick, buzzer beater, 2nd round TKO, end zone antics, high-five, Gatorade locker room dunk, show the trophy to the crowd, victory lap in a millisecond flash across my mind. They had all that other information, birth chart, shoe size, net browsing and don't like turnips, but nothing about Manny.

Stopped caring about the flight. There's lotsa flights, lotsa flights. I had time. Never Mind My Name was dishing up great material, a virtual motherload of raw ore, a comedic soup, a gift. Out of the thousands of non-detained passengers going on to their destinations and personal agendas, he chose me. He was going to make my day.

"Just wondering," I asked after a long pause. 'Can you find Batavia on a world map? If you are one of the first ten correct responders, you will automatically advance to the semi-finals round.'


The Docta's In Da House

Just as I was about to leave his office, just down the way, walking distance from my modest quarters, Dr. Freud said, "If those don't kick in by noon, double up on the dosage."

More is less. I had previously informed the good doctor that the pharmaceuticals he had prescribed yielded a compromising nature to normal, everyday, 3D World reality, and the many and bizarre side-effects, like...well, who do YOU trust, God or Pfizer? God or Eli Lilly?

But whereas the doctor had an 'in' with the drug companies, as in kickbacks and 'freebies', as he called them, in a doctor-hospital-pharmaceutical ring, he disclosed that he was on thin ice with God, mostly because of his atheism, his niece, and youthful indiscretions upon which he declined to elaborate when pressed for details.

He suddenly asked, "Which do you prefer?" as if looking up from a menu. "The beef or pork schnitzel?"

The lost thread of the conversation?...seemed like avoidance, nor could I grasp what could compel a man to plunge into Lake Geneva in February.

"Hey Freud, I asked. "How effective do you think your treatments are?"

"The ice dips or my practice?

"Your practice."

"Psychiatry is just like religion," he replied. "You've got to believe in it for it to work."


New Mosquito Out - Coming To A Cookout Near You

Bangkok - Entomologists at Chulalongkorn University related their recent discovery of a new, smarter, resistant mosquito that has been plaguing Southeast Asian countries in recent months.

The new mosquito, Stegomyia Aedes Ablopictus Noi (small tiger-stripe mosquito) appears to have developed a remarkable resistance to all known bio insecticides, capable of inhaling poison and withstanding a direct blast of aerosol flying insect killers.

"Right now, our only defense is mother nature," said leading researcher, Professor Amapornaharasat Bulalanamantatorasat (Ju) at a news conference yesterday at the university. "Geckos and granddaddy longlegs are the only things that can stop them."

In addition to the development of new defenses, the breed is smaller and smarter, attacking victims on the ankles, behind the knees, and on the back of the shoulder, all locations that permit easy getaway before being slapped.

"The easy kill is over," said Prof. Ju. "They don't land on the forearm or back of your hand, like prior larger species of the genus. These little (expletive deleted) will get you on the back of the neck, behind your shoulders, and places you can't slap."

In Europe and North America, the mosquito, Culiseta annulata, is common and can be mistaken for an Asian tiger mosquito because of its black and white ringed legs. However, this species is missing the distinctive white line that runs from the middle of its head and down the thorax. It is also considerably larger than Aedes albopictus.

Like other mosquito species, only the females require a blood meal to develop their eggs. The search for a host takes place in two phases. First, the mosquito exhibits a nonspecific searching behavior until the perception of host stimulants (humidity, people) followed by a targeted approach. For tiger mosquitoes, carbon dioxide and a combination of chemicals that naturally occur in human skin (fatty acids, ammonia, and lactic acid) are the most attractive.

"Stay indoors at feeding time," suggested Prof. Ju. "You could say they've stepped up their game to a whole new level."


It's probably socially unacceptable, or politically incorrect to make light of the way people look, but sometimes you have to keep from staring because of exceptional weirdness, remarkable beauty, number of piercings, tattoos, or in the case of the neighbor girl, who could be 'a natural' for Planet of the Apes.

It's not the nose or lips so much as it is her hairdo. I mean, she could be a 'walk-on', right past makeup, directly onto the set...not one of the really black apes...more like a reddish brown. She surprised me the other day, walking up on me from behind, and when I turned around, I was like, 'Waaaaa!'

I mentioned it to Damon, and he chuckled and said, "Yeah, she could."


Grotto Now Asphalt

There was a small condo I had near Tokyo, thinking that maybe some of you considering a trip to Japan could possibly enjoy it, free of charge of course...sauna, running water, sun deck, zen garden, grotto...but the property, small even by Japanese standards, got wiped out when Godzilla rolled through and tore everything up, back in...oh, I forget...before the Venus sisters. You probably saw some of the footage...it was horrible. Too much damage to restore that part of the city where he came through, so they razed the entire block and built a new hi tech office park set in a Formura 1 track for the Asian circuit.




Trouble Again On Korean Peninsura - China Staying Tight-lipped

"We will get mad if you punish us for sinking your ship!"

Maybe we're getting the straight story, maybe not, but doesn't that just seem straight out weird to you?

Hillary Clinton says, 'Nigga, Pleeease.'


You Say, 'Leak', We Say, 'Gush'

BP Petrol is saying, "It's only, like, 5,000 liters, er, gallons, er, barrels a day." Coast Guard, Tulane, Mississippi scientists, Interior Dept., NOAA, survivors of the rig, people scooping up the oil, crayfish, Ms. Boudreaux's third grade class are all saying, 'Nigga puhlease.'


World Outrage at Gaza Aid Raid - U.S. Staying Tight-lipped


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Poor and the Weak, The Sick and the Lame


KHUK KHAK, Thailand - Finally found the smaller venue I was seeking, but had to re-work all my out-dated material, constructing a whole new presentation designed primarily for an intoxicated audience, replacing old worn-out and dilapidated jokes with new, sanitized, top-shelf gags, laced heavily with helplessness and paranoia. It's been getting sold-out performances and scary laughs.

Mostly stuff about people losing it, going off the deep end.

You see it everywhere, so it's not just your neighborhood or hometown or house or Pakistan or Gaza; people flipping out, tripping out; too much of something.

Maybe too much of the 21st century. Just yesterday, relatively of course, all we had to worry about was fire in a cave.

Thematically speaking, it's great material for mass audiences, like the thousands of red shirts we waded through on Rachadamnoen Avenue in Bangkok, the perfect setting for testing new material, shaking a raised fist and screaming along with everyone else, "YEAH!", which we got on digital recording, along with a short comedy routine before being hustled off stage by Red Shirt Security. There to bring down the Thai government, the red shirt protesters weren't in the mood for funny business.

So, I've worked 'Rabid Protester' into my act, silent and slo-mo. Red headband. Takes up about three minutes on-stage. Got some other silent stuff too, like the 'Awards Banquet Guy' who suddenly doesn't know what to do with his hands while the coach talks about him. Same guy who performs each Saturday before thousands in a stadium, is paralyzed by fear, frozen in an agonized eternity as the coach's muffled praise buzzes in his ears.

I guess you'd have to see it.

Chinese Monkey in Space. Really funny.

Had to drop the Farakhan skit ('Take a Look Arouuuuuund') because nobody knows who Farakhan is, or cares, and...same same Jesse Jackson. They had their day, everybody knows, trolling in the wake of Malcolm X, REVDRMLKJR, and real bruthas of influence, inasmuch as they (Minister Louis and JJ) were frightfully comedic in their own time.

Got some other silent stuff, like 'Cocky Criminal', smoking a cigarette with a smirk on his face that slowly fades to drained recognition of the looming prospect of incarceration, then cut-a-deal desperation, during the proceedings of a silent interview. Takes about a minute. It's been done dozens of time in film, but not in slo-mo, not on stage. About a minute's worth.

Stage time. It's kind of like court time. Basketball court; not civil, municipal, State or federal.


There are a lot of reasons for a writer not to write; no idea, no time, too lazy, too inept, scared, doing life, had company...HolyMarymotherofChrist...could go on forever...what's your excuse? Not for not writing, but for not doing the work you need to do.

"Awwwwww. That can wait."

So I decided to wait out this computer. Decides on its own when it wants to operate, so I set it aside and checked it every day or so, then suddenly, it works! I've found the solution, ha ha, thinking it just might be the moisture in the air, I set the computer in the sun for oh, about ten minutes, maybe fifteen.

Comes back in hotter than hell, scorching to the touch. But, VOILA! It works! It ain't the muthaboard, after all. Go figure, right? Except nobody says that anymore.

Which reminds me; I coined some new terms. Let me find my notes. Yeah, here. Check it out.

'Flat Earth'

Huhmmmmmm? Like it?

"No doubt." Watch this one. It's catching on, used as an affirmation, in any setting.

Also, you may not have known that I was the first person to come up with:

"Duuuuude." Caught on out west and went east, like everything else, first California, then New York, then Chicago and finally, Des Moines and Alabama. You want to know what's coming? Look west.

"BRICK!" I shouted this out during a quiet moment at a Celtic/Lakers game just as 'Wilt the Stilt' was shooting his famous girl scout underhand free throw.

'Letters to the Editor'. This one went big, now institutionalized across the board nowadays in all forms of media.

I didn't miss the Super Bowl (as in, who won?), but I did miss a backwards (back to the basket), blind, two-handed underhand shot from half court (you've seen or tried it), otherwise known as a 'heave', and although the shot was attempted in everybody's gym class, I was the first to use it in collegiate tournament play, a panic attack heave against a full-court press.* I got benched, despite hitting the rim and eliciting a gasp from the crowd.

'Effects Man'

- That's the guy who does anything from political events or a motion picture set design of NYC in the 1920s, to the lighting and pyrotechnic display at an AC/DC concert; different than 'special effects', the Pope's press people, psychiatry, or cosmetic surgery or anything like that.


It's so hot here on the Isthmus of Kra that on some days, those days when your shirt sticks to your back, those five-showers-a-day days, the only relief you can find mid-day is to stand stark naked, dripping wet in front of a fan, set on three. And even then, the relief is only temporary, lasting only until your skin dries. As soon as you step away from the fan, your skin is wet again, but now, from the dissipation of internal heat. Sweat.

Cat's lying stretched out and panting in a grimace, tongue hanging out of its mouth.

Timeless as the river, life on the upper Mekong hasn't changed much in a thousand years, give or take a few invasions by the Burmese and later, the Thai. In Luang Prabang, they were having the annual water festival, Songkran, the Laotian New Year, a three-day event; the first day of saying goodbye to the previous year, then a day of rest and contemplation and recovering from a hangover, then a final day of welcoming in the new year.

The city was bursting at its seams as hill tribe families of more than fifty ethnic groups from the northern provinces descended upon the ancient imperial capital to bring their children to the on-going carnival and participate in the crazed water tossing celebration to welcome the year of the dragon.

Color, color everywhere, a time for renewal and making merit, of washing, cleaning and sweeping out the past, taking a respite, then embracing the future. A heartbeat, a breath, exhaling and inhaling.


*'79 NCIAC Championship. Against a full-court press with less than a minute in the game. The coach quickly achieved an advanced state of agitation (livid), and used up his last time out to yank my ass out of the game.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Six Months Neglect

Six Months Neglect

Khuk Khak, Thailand - Out in the garden that never dies, how the plants would suffer through the hard season with no caretaker providing an attention to which they had grown accustomed.

What would withstand six months of neglect?

One’s health? That trip to Dr. So-and-So. The exercise, the diet, that tooth, the nagging injury, the engine repair, the dust in the corners. Couldn’t that job wait until spring?

And what of family and friends? A silent relationship, suspended animation, Cinderella’s illusion, the frog prince’s expectation, an unspoken repression, a state of denial, an atrophied claim, a forgot to tell you, an it can wait.

The unfinished work set aside, a potted plant, a crown or filling, a manuscript, a painting, a song.

Who would wait? The soldier’s mate, the fiancĂ©, a promise, a vow, a tour of duty, off to college, a stretch in the joint, aboard the ISS, an appointment, a secret liaison, out of state relocation, no food, no water, no email.

The massage, the meditation, the walk to the Sea. The stretching, the designs, the renovation, the updates, the records, the competition, the time off, the contract renewal, the surgery, the root canal. Can it be put off for six months?

Hadn’t heard from them. Found another owner. Never watered it. People broke in. Slow leak. Needs a jumpstart. Pipes froze. Gonna need a new transmission. Better send flowers. Gonna have to replace the whole damned thing. Rust in the lines, residue in the filter. Gonna have to find her down in Texas somewhere. Gonna have to send an envoy. Gonna have to patch things up. Gonna minimally need duct tape, maybe a new identity. Gonna have to reconfigure, re-boot. Gonna have to shut the whole system down. Might mean war.

What in a life can go for six months without checking in? A definitive statement? To be continued? Pick it up where you left off? Let it go another six?

The garden that never dies will endure until the rainy season, but it may need occasional help, parched, wilting, crying for a drink.



Sunday, February 21, 2010

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Command Performance Cancelled


KHUK KHAK, Thailand - You ever ruined brand new clothes? Brand new, just out of the sack, first time you'd worn it; then, a spilled drink, a spaghetti stain, leaned against fresh paint, a hot ash, a cat's claws, a puppy's paws, caught on a piece of something, sticking out from something, fist fight at the reception.

I have. What's the feeling? Self-disgust? Karmic fate for you and that shirt, those pants, that outfit? Toss it in the bin, give it to the Salvation Army, send it to the rez.


You Okay Today?

"What brought you here today?" she asked.

With a perfectly straight face, I replied slowly, "Pine Ridge VA shuttle.".

"No, I mean," she began, then hesitated a half second to wonder if I was serious and that far out of sync, or being a smartass. "I mean, what brought you in ... why are you here to see me?"

"Just teasing," I said, laughing. "I drove my truck."

She looked at me hard and cold, not smiling, not into playing games or teasing, repeating her last question.

The other day I asked a visiting friend if it was ethical to reveal the contents of a conversation between a psychiatrist and their client. I already had the answer, but was testing his armchair ethics. He hemmed and hawed around, being evasive and hard to pin down, resting on moral relativity.

Of course, it depends. It's relative to the variables of the nature of the information and where you're sitting. If you're the shrink, absolutely not, unless the nature of the information is homocidal or suicidal. Otherwise, it's confidential.

If you're the client or a fly on the wall, then you're free to disclose any or all parts of the session at your discretion. You can say anything. It's your file, after all.

"The nurses over in intake suggested I make an appointment," I said honestly.

"Why did they say that?" she asked.

"Could have been my answers to their questions," I said, adding, "or maybe they wanted info on you. They told me to report back."

The news that the nurses over in Building A wanted information on her, and that she must be the subject of gossip, caught her by surprise and made her wonder, trumping my answers to the intake questionaire. She went vacant for just a second, wearing the expression of someone in disbelief of the incredible filth they had just encountered upon entry into a neigbor's home, then she caught her flow and turned to her computer screen, checking my history, while I sat studying. the degrees on her wall.

"Why haven't you made an appointment in five years?" she asked, turning to me.

"I've been feeling better," I told her. "And you're the fourth person in this position I've talked to over here. There's a lot of turnover in your job."

Rather than pursue an inquiry into the high rate of turnover in her position, the conversation turned to why she was there and where she had come from and the schools she'd attended and where she did her internship, and where she sat during the football. games between IU. and Purdue, the schools she'd attended, and when it flowed back to me, I told her I couldn't get out of my head those angry words those people were shouting at me.

"What people?" she asked.

"The audience," I said.

"What were they yelling?" she asked.

"GET OFF THE STAGE!" I yelled.

I declined her offer of a non-SSRI* pharmaceutical intervention, saying that by the time they kicked in,** I would probably be feeling better, and that I was feeling poorly last week; I was ok right then because I was boarding a flight in two days.

"Can I see your notes?"


Captive of Thung Maphrao

The Thai are big on songbirds. You see them everywhere, caged in custom wooden cages. I know the guy who makes them. Lives right across the street.

On Saturdays and sometimes other days, they have songbird calling contests, with the cars and motorcycles pulled alongside the road, like for a funeral or an auction or yard sale in the US.

You can often see a guy going down the road on a motorbike, cage in hand, covered with a cloth. Sometimes there will be a guy riding on the back, holding a cage in either hand. They say some of those birds are worth ten thousand baht, about three hundred bucks.

They whistle and call to the birds, and blow a metal whistle, or shoot a gun, getting all sorts of smart song responses from the birds, all fluttering around in their cages in rows on aluminum racks, the owners and observers sitting around on the ground. The winners of the competitions are considered quite valuable, they say.

At some of the larger temples, bird vendors sit outside and sell you a small bird in a small cage. You purchase the bird and release it for good merit. Everybody gains; you, the bird, the vendor.


They called him 'Lucky', but he wasn't lucky at all, being chained to a wooden post in a shed; a short chain at that, allowing him just enough tether to dig a cool hole at the base of the post, penalty for his penchant of killing the chickens.


In the vilage of Thung Maphrao, there was a man held captive and under the spell of a powerful shaman's family, allowing just enough tether to dig a hole, and he did. He was free to go, but he kept returning, making everybody wonder and attempt conclusions.


"... and a dream consultant, but not for fees."

"You mean, you interpret people's dreams?"

"No. There's a difference. Dream interpretation involves interpreting highly personalized meaning and symbolism going on inside someone else's head, a charlatan's act, and dream consultation involves only listening, listening to people describe their dreams."


Three dogs ran alongside the road under the lamplight as I sat in Khoh Kloi awaiting a bus to Malaysia on a visa run, a dreaded trip snatching me from my imprisoning in-country comfort zone. The last dog limped along on three legs, stopping to smell something as his friends trotted on, then sprinted to catch up with them, sprinting with a limp.

'That dog on three legs is faster than a man on two,' I thought.

Dogs can run faster, no question. They can smell better than man. They don't have to worry about the rent or a counseling load. It seems that their primary task in life is to find a good place to stay, maybe pull a little guard duty.

Their disadvantages? They don't have hands, thus, they aren't inventive. They can't have mood rings or chia pets, or listen to Def Leppard. They have to listen to us.


* Psycho/pharmo lingo/babble for 'Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor'.

** Two to three weeks.


Monday, February 08, 2010